Re: [asa] Attaining heaven -- a poll

From: Merv <>
Date: Sun Dec 28 2008 - 21:06:07 EST wrote:
> Excuse me, but is there ANYTHING in this thread that is on topic for
> the ASA list?
> I think we are here to discuss matters involving the intersection of
> science and Christian faith, not to wander into random theological
> controversies that can be discussed in dozens of other places on the
> Internet.
> Allan (ASA member, for whom the signal/noise ratio on this list is
> barely tolerable

Yes --there is much in this discussion that is helpful and relevant (to
me anyway) even if it has departed from the given subject line.
Anything that becomes a stumbling block for me (and I'm already a
believer) let alone part of a barrier for those running away from
Christianity is a concern to me, and it should be to you as well. If
the absence of science in here bothers you, we could bring up a token
discussion of the problematic views of a literal hell: ---how do
nerve endings burn and yet continue to provide the tormenting sensations
without being destroyed? Where does all the O2 come from for eternal
flames? Doesn't the process of burning mean something is being
oxidized? How much human body is there to oxidize? This is all
tongue-in-cheek I hope you see. But to the mind of a believer this just
highlights the absurdity of trying to mix scientific thinking in where
it doesn't belong in literature and metaphorical teachings. To the mind
of a hostile non-believer these same things become tools for parody.
And yet wouldn't some Christian literalists be seriously attempting to
answer questions just like these or defending the possibilities by
invoking Divine "provision" for all the necessary tools to maintain
agony? For exactly the same reasons that YEC thought and dogma concerns
us, these questions should as well. The more serious theological
questions regarding Hell (Gehenna) should bear up better under some
study --peripheral though the doctrine is. Understanding of it may well
help to shed understanding on subjects of justice and mercy, new Heaven,
new Earth, (and by extension how our understandings of nature and evil
can fit together).

Speaking of metaphorical places as Dave M. mentions, something stood out
for me in Ezekiel 28 that I had never thought about before. Eden rates
a mention. Specifically, the king of Tyre is lavishly praised (wiser
than Daniel) (has been in Eden) etc. ...but has now set himself up as a
god --trouble coming. And later on in Ch. 31, pharaoh of Egypt is
likened to a great tree envied even by the trees of God's garden
(Eden). It's hard to mistake Ezekiel's intent here literally dripping
with metaphor as I doubt even the most die-hard literalist wants to
begin building a case that the King of Tyre visited the actual Eden or
that any kingdoms of earth literally outdid God's original paradise.
So if an O.T. prophet can wax poetic using places, perhaps we're in good
company seeing Hell (Gehenna) as a metaphor? The only real question,
though, is: are we in Jesus' company? While I'm not (yet) able to
buy into a universalist understanding as some here are defending, I do
think that the person who taught us to "be perfect as your Father in
Heaven is perfect" is also perhaps making use of metaphor in some
powerful way that we end up distorting.

BTW --regarding subject lines; I often wonder if it should be changed
when we've long left the original tag line subject behind; and yet
(should it ever happen) if someone is searching through the archive
later trying to follow a discussion, would frequently changing subject
lines be a help or hindrance to them following a sequence of posts?
Perhaps more aptly named subject lines would be more helpful than confusing?


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Received on Sun Dec 28 21:01:28 2008

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